Haitian, a creole deriving from French, has a reputation as being rather linguistically exotic when compared to French and the other Romance languages; and it lives up to this reputation with its copula system. It has three forms of the copula: se, ye, and the zero copula, no word at all, (whose position we will indicate with a placeholder "_", just for purposes of illustration).
Although no textual record exists of Haitian at its earliest stages of development from French, se is obviously derived from French c'est (IPA [sε]), which is the normal French contraction of ce (it) and the copula est (third-person singular of the present indicative of the verb être, ultimately from SVM).
The derivation of ye is less obvious; but we can assume that the French source was il est ("he/it is"), which, in rapidly spoken French, is very commonly pronounced as y est (IPA [jε]).
The use of a zero copula is unknown in French, and it is thought to be an innovation from the early days when Haitian was first developing as a Romance-based pidgin. Coincidentally, Latin also sometimes used a zero copula.
There appears to be no trace of STO.
Distinction between se, ye and zero copula
Which of se/ye/_ is used in any given copula clause depends on complex syntactic factors that we can superficially summarize in these four rules:
First: Use _ (i.e., no word at all) in declarative sentences where the complement is an adjective phrase, prepositional phrase, or adverb phrase:
* Li te _ an Ayiti. (She past-tense in Haiti; "she was in Haiti")
* Liv-la _ jon. (Book-the yellow; "the book is yellow")
* Timoun-yo _ lakay. (Kids-the home; "the kids are [at] home")
Second: Use se when the complement is a noun phrase. But note that whereas other verbs come *after* any tense/mood/aspect particles (like pa to mark negation, or te to explicitly mark past tense, or ap to mark progressive aspect), se comes *before* any such particles:
* Chal se ekriven. (Charles is writer.)
* Chal se pa ekriven. (Charles is not writer; cf. With the verb kouri ("run"): Chal pa kouri, not Chal kouri pa.)
* Chal, ki se ekriven, pa vini. (Charles, who is writer, not come.)
Third: Use se where English or French have a "dummy-it" subject:
* Se mwen! ("It's me!", French C'est moi!)
* Se pa fasil. ("It's not easy", colloquial French C'est pas facile)
And finally: use the other copula form, ye, in situations where the sentence's syntax leaves the copula at the end of a phrase:
* Kijan ou ye? ("How you are?")
* Pou kimoun liv-la te ye? (Of who book-the past-tense is?; "Whose book was it?")
* M pa konnen kimoun li ye. (I not know who he is; "I don't know who he is.")
* Se yon ekriven Chal ye (It's a writer Charles is; "Charles is a writer!"; cf. French C'est un écrivain qu'il est)
The above is, however, only a superficial analysis. For more details on the syntactic conditions as well as on Haitian-specific copula constructions such as se kouri m ap kouri (It's run I progressive run; "I'm really running!"), see the grammar sketch in Catherine Howe's Haitian Creole Newspaper Reader (which is the source for most of the Haitian data in this article), and see also Valdman & Philippe's textbook Ann Pale Kreyol: An Introductory Course in Haitian Creole.
hbheather wrote:Welcome Hefestos! I am very excited to see a new member!:D Thank you for joining!
In my "piti" book, Haitian Creole Made Easy by Wally R. Turnbull, it stated:
you (singular)- ou
we, us, you (plural)- nou
So, toksave, I'm guessing it can go either way?... by having "you"(plural) be "ou" as well?:)
And just to add...yo=they, them
"their" (along with they and them)= yo
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